The burning question on most industry watchers’ minds is this: what will Bloomsbury do in a life without new Harry Potter books in the pipeline? CEO Nigel Newton keeps his chin up in an interview with the Guardian. The stock market’s ambivalent view on Bloomsbury’s preparations frustrates Newton, who has seen the company’s shares drift down to 166p, far from the 374p they reached when the sixth Potter was published two years ago.
“The real question is what is going to happen in 2008 and 2009 and why should shareholders feel reassured about their holdings,” said Newton. “Well you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you look at the list we have put together and the strategic decisions we have made for the business, you will see a very strong publishing group in action.” Though Newton hints at a takeover prospect, Bloomsbury might also be prey to being taken over. “A challenge for Bloomsbury is how the company spends the next load of Potter money,” said Joel Rickett, deputy editor of The Bookseller. “It will be a target for private equity because there will be this large cash balance on its books. Bloomsbury will probably give out a decent dividend or buy a few good businesses – or else a buyer will come in. It will not be an easy few years, but the company has strength in depth across its publishing lists.”